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  7. EP 315 Transcript | E-A-T with Lily Ray

EP 315 Transcript | E-A-T with Lily Ray

By Site Strategics
June 7, 2019


Announcer: (00:01) On this episode of Edge of the Web.

Lily Ray: (00:05) It matters because people are using Google to get information rapidly, and they’re relying on Google for very important decision making in their life, so you have to provide expert content to Google to be able to compete, and to be able to provide with the content that they’re looking for and maintain trust with the search engine as well as with the companies that are offering content on the search engine. It just matters, because we all know what it feels like to use the internet, and feel good about the content that we’re reading and so I think it’s not just an SEO thing but it’s really important for the well being of the public, as well.

Announcer: (00:46) Your weekly digital marketing trends with industry trendsetting guests. You’re listening and watching Edge of the Web. Winners of the best podcast from the Content Marketing Institute for 2017. Hear and see more at edgeofthewebradio.com. Now, here’s your host, Erin Sparks.

Erin Sparks: (01:08) Okay, let’s introduce Lily to our audience here, our listeners as well as our live streamers. Lily Ray is the SEO director of Path Interactive, where she leads a large team of SEO professionals, and she develops and oversees SEO strategies. She also speaks at trainings, seminars, conferences about SEO best practices and industry developments. She’s also a semi-professional DJ and drummer. There you go. There is a parallel between SEO and percussion, I’m thinking, but I’ll let you unpack that one.

Lily Ray: (01:39) There’s a lot of musicality in the SEO industry. Pretty cool.

Erin Sparks: (01:44) Absolutely. Do you know any other SEOs that are musicians?

Lily Ray: (01:47) I do. I know a handful.

Erin Sparks: (01:49) Very cool.

Lily Ray: (01:50) Wayne Forester, for example, builds guitars on his free time.

Erin Sparks: (01:53) Sweet. Builds guitars, just not plays them.

Lily Ray: (01:56) Builds guitars. Yeah, he was telling me about his guitar shed.

Erin Sparks: (01:59) Oh, man.

Lily Ray: (01:59) When he’s not doing SEO he’s building guitars.

Erin Sparks: (02:02) That’s a skill and a half. Lily, I’d love for you to kind of unpack how you got into SEO. Give us your real backstory, not the professional one.

Lily Ray: (02:15) Yeah. I was at NYU, and it was about the time that of the recession, so I was studying politics, and I was planning to go into politics, and law, and everybody that was doing that at that time was just not finding work, and it was a kind of this devastating thing. I found an internship that was paid, and it was doing social media marketing, and SEO, and it was still pretty early on at that point, I think this was about 2009, or so, and so SEO involved meta tagging, basically, just like write as many keywords as you possibly can for this page, and then do it again for the next page, and the next page, so I was just writing meta keywords all day. But, that actually impacted rankings, and looking at the analytics was really thrilling. It was like, wait, this is super fun. That’s kind of how I started. Then, I just found a couple of in house roles in New York, and then joined an agency called [inaudible 00:03:10] Digital about seven years ago, and then I’ve been in the agency world ever since.

Erin Sparks: (03:14) Very cool. Now, I see behind you, you’ve got some bass, or fishing examples, the wallpaper behind you. That’s actually really [inaudible 00:03:25], because whenever you’re in SEO that’s what you’re doing, trying to, boy, I just went on the complete random thought there. I’m so sorry.

Lily Ray: (03:33) [inaudible 00:03:33] what we do every day.

Erin Sparks: (03:35) Exactly. There’s a parallel there. You’ve been doing this for a number of years, and you certainly got in at kind of the tail end of that first round of SEO practices, and soon after, keywords were dropped off the map of tactics to actually do, so it kept ongoing inward towards content, right?

Lily Ray: (03:57) Yeah. SEO has been an interesting journey of everything that you get used to doing just not being a tactic that you can use anymore. The first big devastating experience with regard to that was when Google started to rollout not provided in Google Analytics, and we couldn’t see [inaudible 00:04:18] anymore. I remember exactly where I was when that happened, it was so upsetting. But, then it’s been this kind of slow just every day, or every month there’s a similar type of experience in the SEO industry, so you have to kind of get used to it, and you roll with the punches, and you figure out new strategies.

Erin Sparks: (04:38) Absolutely.

Lily Ray: (04:41) But, that keeps it fun, because you know the people you talk to you know that if they’ve been doing SEO every day, or you know that they haven’t touched it in five years, because everything changes so much, all the time.

Erin Sparks: (04:47) Absolutely. April 24th, 2012. I mean, these dates are living [inaudible 00:04:53].

Lily Ray: (04:52) Yeah.

Erin Sparks: (04:53) Okay. There’s the reveal folks we are deep geeks if we can actually remember where we were whenever the not provided came into analytics.

Lily Ray: (05:05) Exactly.

Erin Sparks: (05:07) Certainly, a lot of things have changed, and we got a good deal familiar with how important content was not just for the keywords, not just the density of the keywords, but it really had to go, it went towards inbound links, the authority, the value of these pages that they were getting. There’s been a number of algorithm changes just recently, one, back in August 2018, and just another one here in mid March of this year. Right?

Lily Ray: (05:36) Yeah. There’s been a handful of them. They’re all buried in my memory. August 1st was probably the biggest. September 27th was also pretty enormous, that was kind of just like an aftershock of August 1st. Then, there was March 12th, which was also pretty big. I grew up in the Bay area, so for me these feel like earthquakes.

Erin Sparks: (05:55) Yeah.

Lily Ray: (05:55) It’s kind of the same thing. You just wake up and you don’t really know what’s going to happen that day. Then, there was kind of some late April updates, as well. I have a lot of clients that are in the YMYL space, it’s never a dull moment when these algorithm updates happen.

Erin Sparks: (06:13) No. You’re absolutely right. We’re going to unpack this for our listeners. A lot of our listeners aren’t SEOs, and they don’t know these concepts. We’re going to unpack, what is YMYL for our listeners who haven’t been keeping track of this show for a while?

Lily Ray: (06:28) Sure. YMYL is an acronym that Google created, it’s Your Money, Your Life, so these are websites that can impact the future happiness, and wellbeing, and safety of users, so things like financial, medical, legal content. Content related to security, or parenting, or anything that can really have a serious impact on your life, but that actually includes eCommerce pretty much across the board, because with eCommerce companies you’re making a transaction online, so that can obviously impact your happiness for whatever reason, your credit card information is stolen, or something else like that.

Erin Sparks: (07:04) The kind of the association there is if your putting out content that is bringing traffic in, and getting your ranks, there’s this connection of that you are an authority about this information as opposed to just having the information as bait, or as, see, I keep going back to the fish in the background there, as information to be able to get them there, so you can actually transact. There’s this, okay, if you really know what you’re talking about then you should be an authority in your space, and this is the beginning, it was the beginning of this EAT update, if we want to call it that. But, along with that a lot of medical sites that had glossaries of medical terms, and the like, also, kind of got taken down a peg, didn’t they?

Lily Ray: (07:52) Yeah. E-A-T is not entirely brand new, Google actually started talking about it in 2014, it’s just now it’s playing a bigger role than ever it seems as it relates to the current iteration of Googles algorithm. Particularly for websites that are kind of classified as YMYL, so if you fall into that category. E-A-T is extremely important. It’s not something that should be kind of hyper scrutinized, but every single type of website, but if you find that you fall into the YMYL category, it’s something that you have to consider.

Lily Ray: (08:29) This is kind of, it’s piggybacking off of what’s happening across the global tech industry, what’s happening with Facebook, what’s happening with Twitter, and what are the implications of the information that these companies are providing to the public? Google is obviously under major scrutiny, and they really now are focused on making sure that everything that they’re putting out into the public is trustworthy, it’s not misinformation, it’s not causing violence, or harm, or things like the recent vaccination scandal. Google is just really cracking down on controlling information to the fullest extent that it can, so that it is needed to be seen as a trustworthy company.

Erin Sparks: (09:10) It’s almost that, [inaudible 00:09:11] agree that it’s their own insurance policy is that they’re evaluating these additional accreditations, the value of the individual or brand that is subject to scrutiny here. They got to know what they’re talking about. They just can’t throw content out there. This is actually real, I want to say, it’s true content. I don’t want to go down the slippery slope of does Google index, are a truthful indexer, because that’s a whole lot of politics in that space. Right?

Lily Ray: (09:44) Yeah.

Erin Sparks: (09:45) But, just knowing and having the affirmation that what you’re reading is validated in one way, shape or form by Google, and that these people know what they’re talking about. That’s all towards the betterment of the Google user. Right?

Lily Ray: (10:01) Yeah. That’s the thinking. What they’re doing is they’re figuring out a way for the algorithm to identify who these experts are, and how trustworthy these experts are. A lot of people ask me, “Oh, can’t you just kind of put someones name behind it, and then talk about how much they’re an expert,” and it could be an entirely fictitious person, and it’s like, actually, no, because Googles been focusing on authorship for a number of years, through different mechanisms that used to be something called [inaudible 00:10:31] authored, which was a tab that you could put on your page, that got deprecated, but it doesn’t mean that they’ve stopped focusing on authorship.

Lily Ray: (10:41) There’s this other notion of machine readable entities, which basically means that there’s a number that’s associated with different authors, and different entities on the internet, so everybody has a unique number that Google stores with information about that person, once they reach a certain point of credibility, whether they’re basically able to have that number associated to them, and Googles matching that number, or that machine readable entity across different websites, and they’re seeing this person wrote for The New York Times, and this person wrote for The Washington Post, and so they’re trusted to talk about these topics, and they see that author write for a different blog, it’s going to bring up the authority of that blog, and it’s also going to show that the author is a true expert at providing expert content throughout the internet. A lot going on there.

Erin Sparks: (11:30) Absolutely. We all have a number, and Google knows our number. That’s not creepy, at all.

Lily Ray: (11:34) No.

Erin Sparks: (11:34) That is very similar to what we grew up with as SEOs when it came to page rank. Right?

Lily Ray: (11:44) Yeah. Exactly.

Erin Sparks: (11:45) There’s a lot of parallels and you actually talk about that in your recent presentation you gave in April. Before we jump into that, because there’s a lot of information to go through, just the key concepts. Companies and brands that have websites need to also look at the categorization of themselves, it’s not just your money, or it’s not just something as simple as your money, or simple as your life, there are some other scenarios regarding, one, accepting credit cards, obviously, that’s a big factor, but there are some opinions about fashion, do it your home improvement sites, nutritional, and diet, and fitness, movie and restaurant, and automobile reviews, these are kind of sites that have to do with your happiness. Right?

Lily Ray: (12:31) Yeah.

Erin Sparks: (12:33) Boy, it’s not nearly as black and white as, okay, if I’m not a medical website, I don’t have to worry about it, if you’re providing advice out there, if you’re providing content that people are going to take away, and make a decision from that for their happiness then you better be paying attention to your content, including parent advice.

Lily Ray: (12:56) Yeah. One of the recent updates that Google rolled in its search quality guidelines a couple weeks ago, compared to last year, this was one of the big updates that they made, they said, “If you’re not a YMYL website, you don’t have to focus so much on E-A-T,” so if you’re a hobbyist, you can just write about that hobby, because you love that hobby. But, as you just mentioned there’s a bunch of industries that kind of fall into this gray area of buying a car is still YMYL, because that’s a car, it’s a huge purchase, it relates to the safety of you and your family, so there’s a lot of gray area. Diet and fitness is definitely YMYL, even though it’s not the same as writing about heart attacks and cancer. It still absolutely affects your health and your wellbeing. A lot of sites fall into the YMYL category. It doesn’t just have to be strictly medical content.

Erin Sparks: (13:51) No. At the heart of this is Google is wanting you to provide accurate information. I keep on coming back to this no BS marketing realm, is that you’ve got to tell the truth, you can’t spin it, you can’t fake it, you got to be real, and if you’re acting on behalf of your client, you got to have a strategy to develop, if they don’t have it already, to develop that expertise, authority and trust. We didn’t even breakdown the anachronism here, before, but expertise, authority and trust are what we’re talking about here.

Erin Sparks: (14:26) Your presentation, here, I don’t know if we can call them E-A-T updates as it applies to Google, but certainly they’ve been doing it for a heck of a long time, and they’re preening through garbage, and they’re giving some demerits to sites that haven’t cleaned up their act. Right?

Lily Ray: (14:44) Yeah. What’s interesting is this is changing on a weekly basis. There’s been a handful of new algorithm updates since I gave a talk in Brighton, and there’s been a lot of fluctuations ever since then, so there’s definitely some things that are consistent throughout the updates, and there’re some situations it looks like maybe Google didn’t catch on to some tactics that certain sites were using, or not using, but in March, April 2019 they began to see what those sites were doing.

Lily Ray: (15:13) It all points back to, again, telling the truth, making sure you have experts behind it, but it all points back to, again, telling the truth, making sure you have experts behind it. There are some sites that are actually coming out on top as of recently that are doing a really good job of this, and what they’re doing is if they’re a medical site, or a very YMYL site natured even if they have junior writers, or freelance writers they have experts collaborate with those writers to put their name behind it, so you can still have junior, or freelance writers helping produce your content, but you definitely can’t have those people making claims that are not substantiated with real citations and/or written in collaboration with real experts.

Lily Ray: (15:57) The level of scrutiny that Google is using to determine what’s high quality content it changes depending on consequential this content is for peoples lives. If you’re writing an article about heart attacks, you better believe that you have to use the most expert possible writers in collaboration with your writers, at least to review the content. If you’re writing about knitting that’s not necessarily the case, you can just have a stay at home mom who loves to knit, that’s an expert in that category, and that’s fine.

Erin Sparks: (16:29) Have you seen the extreme knitting channel? I mean, those are some major, I mean, that’s risky stuff out there, and the needles are really sharp, man. Why are you laughing at me, [inaudible 00:16:38]?

Lily Ray: (16:38) [inaudible 00:16:38] with your knitting needles. Yeah. Maybe that was a bad example.

Erin Sparks: (16:44) What you’re talking about here is there’s a new paradigm, here.

Lily Ray: (16:50) Yep.

Erin Sparks: (16:50) Honestly, is that for getting into the content and writing space, you literally have to stoke your accreditation, your credibility, if you are contributing into multiple websites, that’s great for you, but it’s not really going to be benefiting the domain unless you’ve got that building accreditation in that particular industry. Right?

Lily Ray: (17:20) Yep. Definitely. I think helping Google by creating associations between the content that you’ve written, and then having a biography page on the websites where you’re a contributor, and then associating that biography page to maybe your LinkedIn profile, or your Twitter profile, or anything else that you’ve written. If you’ve sold a 1,000 books on the topic, you should definitely be linking to the place where you sold those books, and kind of providing the credentials to show that you can write about these topics. Yeah.

Lily Ray: (17:51) Just really building up an expertise in a certain category that you’re writing about, so just because you’re an expert on pregnancy doesn’t also make you an expert on fitness, it actually is that granular. Your biography really has to talk specifically about one niche, but again, this level of scrutiny is really being used for YMYL websites. I think, again, if you’re a stay at home mom, and you like to cook, and you also like to knit, that’s fine, you can kind of talk about both of those things, but googles upping the anty for content that can really seriously have an impact on somebody’s health, or wellbeing.

Erin Sparks: (18:31) Yeah. All things being considered rightfully so, because it’s important stuff.

Lily Ray: (18:36) Yeah.

Erin Sparks: (18:37) E-A-T, as we’re describing it here. The underpinning of all this comes from the Google quality grader guidelines, that we talked about. Some of your presentation points back in April in Brighton, E-A-T literally is in that document a 186 times referenced there. Now, it’s also morphed into page quality. Right?

Lily Ray: (19:04) Yeah. It’s no longer in it that many times.

Erin Sparks: (19:05) Yeah. That point, how many changes have happened since your presentation? YMYL, still in the upper 80s for references there. Are there any other types of content references that Google is doing, is presenting so strongly as the YMYL in that document? Have you seen any other areas of information or types of information that they’re paying attention to in comparison?

Lily Ray: (19:35) I think page quality is the other kind of buzzword that came from the new updates guidelines, but they all kind of mean one and the same. I think page quality, and E-A-T are used somewhat synonymously. Page quality is more about how well the content answers the question that’s being posed by the page, but it does tie back into E-A-T, because if you’re making claims that are vague, and the user is left wandering, like is that true, where did they get that information, and you’re not citing your sources, and linking to the place where you got that content, that all relates to page quality, but it also relates to E-A-T, as well.

Erin Sparks: (20:16) That’s a really good example, right there. We used to whenever you were talking about conversion, the old method was, okay, if you can print out your website, put it on the wall, walk 10 feet back, and if you don’t understand what that page was trying to get you to do, then you’re still not guiding conversion correctly, and then the same thing, if you can look at your site, and if you are left wandering, if you can’t see citations, if you can’t see references, then there’s certainly some improvements that you can do to these pages that’ll get you in the lane for E-A-T, but you really kind of have to gut check every page of content you’re putting out there.

Lily Ray: (20:57) Yeah. It’s been interesting, because some of the sites that are top performers know, that have been doing really well after these algorithm updates, they’re almost going above and beyond to show how trusted they are to write about these topics, so they’ll implement things like alongside the authors name there will be a little button where you can click more information about the author, and a little pop up will appear that says, this is who this person is, this is where they went to school, this is all the other publications that they’ve written for, and here’s our editorial policy, and here’s how we fact check all of our content.

Lily Ray: (21:31) Especially if you’re reading something about medical content it’s like all the information you need is on the page to be able to determine that you can trust the content, but then again if you don’t have that, we’ve seen situations where that content isn’t there, and then you’ll look up reviews of this publisher, and a lot of people will be saying, “I don’t know if I can believe this, or trust this.” I have diabetes, and I need to know if the person who’s writing about diabetes knows what they’re talking about, or if they’re working with doctors who treat diabetes, because everyone shouldn’t be taking their advice, seriously, it’s dangerous. You know?

Erin Sparks: (22:05) Oh, my gosh. On top of it the websites that are really doing well, they’re not only presenting the author, and the subject matter expertise, but they’re also telling Google how they fact check, so there’s this additional schema, I don’t want to go there, because it’s not schema, but it is, of how that site operates to validate the content that they’re putting in there, and boy what a next level strategy that is for Google.

Lily Ray: (22:34) Yeah. There’s been some really incredible examples. People are getting really creative, which is awesome, but there are some sites that actually have these internal grading systems where they’ll say, “We’re writing about dietary content, and we want to tell you a little bit about how we determine what’s factual and what’s not,” so if it’s red that means that we included the source on here, but it doesn’t really meet our criteria for extremely well fact checked content. If it’s yellow, it’s somewhere in the middle. If it’s green, we definitely feel good about the facts behind this article.

Lily Ray: (23:09) It’s like websites are policing themselves now, which is pretty cool, and the top performers are doing it in a way that it’s still user friendly, it’s easy for the user to still navigate through the content, but then also layer it with this information about how trustworthy they are, as part of the kind of native flow of the website. It’s pretty interesting how people are interpreting all these new updates.

Erin Sparks: (23:32) It’s very organic, as well, no pun intended. Right? It’s very organic, how the industry or the delivery mechanism, which are the websites are finding their way to become more and more trustworthy, believable. You’re going to find a lot of tools. A lot of, again, from [inaudible 00:23:54] industry standpoint, you’re going to find a lot of widgets, and applications that you can put on your website, you got to fill in that content, but there could very well be an additional ecosystem of tools in which you can help position your site to be at least communicating how it vets contributors, and contributing articles.

Lily Ray: (24:19) Yeah. [inaudible 00:24:20]. There’s an interesting website it’s called Media Bias/Fact Check, that I think it got launched a couple of years ago kind of at the height of this whole fake news thing that started to happen. The website just basically takes a lot of the publishers out there, mostly politics related, but also some kind of health, and just general news websites, and it graded them according to how well established the information is in actual science, or fact check, or things of that nature.

Lily Ray: (24:52) It’ll give individual websites and say, we’ve discovered that this is a highly liberal publication that doesn’t always check its facts, or things of that nature. That’s been an interesting site to go back to, because a lot of the sites that Google has brought down with their recent algorithm updates actually appear on that website, or are linked to from articles that fall into the conspiracy and pseudo science category of that website, so that’s been interesting to kind of see the coalition between fake news explosion that happened, and all these E-A-T updates.

Erin Sparks: (25:27) I was already kind of set up for it, I mean, the fake news pursuit, and how they were vetting, and what sources they were using to get that on the social media platforms was kind of the early adopter of what Googles getting into vet same authors. Right? Thank you for the segue, I appreciate it, greatly, because now I wanted to ask you about are there tools out there? Are there assessment tools that you can grade your own website based on these factors?

Erin Sparks: (25:56) Now, we know about authority tools, we have Moz on here with Domain Authority 2.0. There’s a number of these really good tool sets to be able to understand the link value, but that’s not the same realm, and a lot of times accreditation sites won’t have at all the same strength of domain as the SEO factors that we’re looking at from an inbound link campaign. Are the tools out there that we can use to kind of scan ourselves, are we EAT worthy?

Lily Ray: (26:30) That’s a really good question. If somebody wanted to build an E-A-T tool, that would be awesome. I’m sure you’d get a lot of business right now.

Erin Sparks: (26:36) You better believe it. We’re going to copyright that right now on the show, right now.

Lily Ray: (26:41) I think it’s still, at least in my experience, maybe there’s a tool that I don’t know about, yet, but it’s a pretty manual process, so a lot of the analysis that we’ve been doing internally here we’re using a lot of different tools. Actually, the biggest lifesaver, for me, has been archive.org, Wayback Machine, because what you’re able to do is you’re able to look at different points in time and see what the content looked like, so a lot of what I’ll do is I’ll take the content before it was hit with an algorithm update, because a lot of times if you go and look at the content now these companies have already made significant changes to the content, so you can’t stay with the current iteration of the page what happened, you have to go back in line. I’ve been doing a lot of that.

Lily Ray: (27:22) I’ve been analyzing the text using [inaudible 00:27:24] Checker, which is great, it just basically shows you what’s been added or removed content. As it relates to links, [inaudible 00:27:31] is amazing, just kind of going through there and cross referencing, like that company I just talked about Media Bias/Fact Check seeing if there’s any potentially spammy looking links, or untrustworthy links in their background profile. Really trying to get more into content analysis.

Lily Ray: (27:51) There’s a couple different tools that we use. For one, our agency uses Botify, they have some content analysis in there, so things like looking at duplicate content throughout the website. If you’re a medical, or a YMYL website you really don’t want [inaudible 00:28:05] content throughout the website, you really want to have as much unique content as possible. Then, [inaudible 00:28:12] was also getting into some interesting content following, so it’ll tell you sentiment analysis, so does this have a positive tone, or a negative tone, or things like that. I think we’re still building it out, but for now it’s pretty manual to do these types of analysis.

Erin Sparks: (28:28) That goes into all the different tools that are available, and they’re also specialized, but it’s kind of like a practitioner like yourself, that pulls these things together, and kind of reads as a physician. Right? You got to diagnose the patient. Another one out there, readability.io, which is a great educational level scanner. Right? Those things works all into the same perspective. We got to find somebody to make one of these tools, kind of like one ring rules them all.

Lily Ray: (29:02) Yeah. I’m going to go talk to my guys in the back after we get off this call.

Erin Sparks: (29:05) Oh, no. See, we trademarked it right here on the show. We’ve got it-

Jacob Mann: (29:08) Yeah. I’ve already got the application in. We’re done.

Erin Sparks: (29:10) Oh, do we? We’re already registering EATscan.com. Right? Sorry, that’s probably going to pull up some weird results, as well. All right. Back at it, the E-A-T tool, that’s where I wanted to go at one point in time for a part of this interview, but I also wanted to get some key tips, some key thoughts for website owners that haven’t looked at this yet, what are some key steps to making progress towards EAT compliance, for lack of a better description? Boy, that’s a weird analogy right there.

Lily Ray: (29:40) I know. I’ve got a lot of them. A really easy step that a lot of companies haven’t done is just having an about page, so [inaudible 00:29:50] are like they’ve been around for 50 years, and it just never occurred to them to put an about page on their website, so make sure you have that, make sure you talk about who your company is, and why you should be trusted, and what your company history is, and who works there, and what your mission is, and all that type of stuff.

Lily Ray: (30:06) Authorship is probably the next most important. I think looking at your content, and seeing first of all that you’ve disclosed who your authors are. Second of all, who those authors are, and why they should be trusted, having a link to the author bio page on your website. A lot of people will just have the author’s name without making it linkable, so I definitely encourage sites to actually bring users to a page where they can learn more about that author. Really reviewing the content, so if you’re a YMYL you don’t want to make vague claims, or obviously false claims.

Lily Ray: (30:41) You definitely don’t want to write content with the sole purpose of trying to sell your product throughout the content. One interesting thing I’ve been noticing more and more of is affiliate linking, if you look up on Google, does Google discredit companies for SEO purposes if they’re using affiliate links on their site, and the last time Google actually talked about this, from my understanding, was [inaudible 00:31:07] maybe five or seven years ago.

Erin Sparks: (31:09) Holy crap.

Lily Ray: (31:10) Yeah. He was like, “No, we can understand what it’s like to affiliate or not,” but what’s happening now is if you’re a YMYL website and you’re running affiliate links, products, that’s a bad look, actually. You have to be really careful about that. You can still do it, but it’s definitely important to be fully transparent about that in the content, and to not talk about serious legal, or financial, or medical topics, and then just kind of trick the user to going to buy a product on another site. Yeah. Those are some fun tips.

Erin Sparks: (31:46) Yeah. Absolutely. The key thing is making sure, because this all goes back to quality guidelines, quality grader guidelines. We know that there’s a rank brain, we know that there’s an algorithm, but the entire thing comes back to what Googles telling its human graders to evaluate, so they’re going to check reviews, they’re going to look at your about page, they’re going to see who you are, are you actually who you say you are, who works for you, what kind of reviews are there, what expertise you have in it. That all is basic human nature to investigate things. Right?

Lily Ray: (32:23) Yeah.

Erin Sparks: (32:24) If you don’t have it, I mean, literally just roll that out, spend some time, pay attention to how a consumer would even look at you, and evaluate you as someone they want to believe, but also want to do a transaction with. Right?

Lily Ray: (32:38) Yeah. It’s tricky for a lot of companies, because the whole notion of content is king has been the big SEO mantra for the past 10 years, or so, so everyone’s hired all these copywriters, and junior writers, and everything to just constantly produce content, and create new blogs all the time, but now Google’s kind of changing the rules a little bit, where those people can’t write about certain topics, at least without the help of real experts, so people always panic about this, because it’s like, well, I have this I have this team, what am I supposed to do with my writers? You know? They’re here, and they’re great writers, and maybe they don’t have real credentials to write about certain topics, but we love the way that they write for our company.

Lily Ray: (33:23) There’s some creative ways of getting around this. What you can do is you can still have those writers produce content, of course, but those writers should also focus on building up their own personal E-A-T, and maybe starting to develop credentials, and accolades in whatever way that they can, but also more importantly working with experts on whatever topic they’re writing about. I found a good example on a website called, Self, you know Self Magazine? They have relatively junior copywriters in some cases, but when they’re writing about YMYL topics they say, “Here’s everything you need to know about this, we’ve actually brought in five experts that we’ve interviewed for this content, and here’s what they have to say about it.”

Erin Sparks: (34:05) That’s awesome.

Lily Ray: (34:06) [inaudible 00:34:06] collaboration. Yeah. They’re doing really well after all these algorithm updates.

Erin Sparks: (34:10) Two thoughts about that, one, what you’re introducing is again another [inaudible 00:34:15] industry that if a copywriter wants to get into marketing, they’re actually going to have to start choosing what industries they would want to actually pursue, so you’re going to have these, again, these vertical marketing agencies that just focus on a particular industry, even a niche inside that industry, so it’s going to be on the company to go find those agencies that have that [inaudible 00:34:42], or that stable of excellent writers in that space, so kind of a prediction of the future there. It’s going to be very fractionalized type of content, and they’re going to have the merit to be able to even contribute on your website. Secondly, the concept of, I lost my train of thought, darn it, what was the second one? You just brought it up.

Lily Ray: (35:08) Yeah. With authorship as an agency we hire freelancers to do a lot of writing for us, and we’re more than ever really, really focused on we’re hiring to write about XYZ topic, they have to have background in that topic, so I think in the past writers would just say, “My job is a freelance writer, and I write about whatever topic you need me to, and I’ll research it.” But, Google doesn’t want people just taking content on the internet and rewriting it, and then publishing it without any new information.

Erin Sparks: (35:38) Thank you for giving me enough information to remember my second thought. You’re absolutely right. That was a good buffer there. Part of this is that the same social signals, and the same authority signals that links had, and engagement, and social space those don’t bear into maybe some very small pockets, niche industries where there’s not that many tweets, because the practitioners of that industry don’t tweet that much. They don’t have social accounts. The applause. The engagement. These factors, the signals that we can see from a distance off they don’t apply to some of these very specialist trades, and organizations. My gosh, I’m just building the case for a better tool right now.

Lily Ray: (36:28) Yeah. I mean, part of the SEO agencies job right now, or the SEO professionals job is to say, “Hey, your company has this expert, and we know they’re experts, but they haven’t focused on their online persona ever before,” and maybe they didn’t want to, but now this is kind of a ranking factor. Google hasn’t explicitly said that, but it’s definitely clear from what we’re seeing with regard to how websites are performing nowadays.

Lily Ray: (36:55) One thing we’re doing with a lot of our clients is we’re saying, “We know you guys are experts, your website doesn’t reflect that, and when you Google your brand it certainly doesn’t reflect that, so we’re going to build up your online presence, and your reputation, and we’re going to learn more about who the CEO is, and we’re going to publish some new information about your CEO on the website, so that human beings, and users, as well as the search engines can see that great content, and really trust your brand.”

Erin Sparks: (37:22) You know, there’s going to be a lot of uncomfortable conversations across the country, and marketers talking to C levels that have no desire, you’ve heard it time immemorial, I don’t do Facebook, nobody that I know does Facebook, well, guess what, Google wants you to be known there.

Lily Ray: (37:39) Exactly. The day in the life of the SEO.

Erin Sparks: (37:44) SEO is coming back around with some bigger teeth, EAT. You got to step up, you got to contribute. There was one key point to wrap up some of those signals, the NAP, the name, address, and phone number standardization out there, is that a factor just from a brand standpoint to make sure that everything is organized in the brand space, the digital brand space that helps kind of connect the dots for those online graders, those EAT signals?

Lily Ray: (38:19) I never tied N-A-P and E-A-T together, so name, address, and phone number with E-A-T, but I don’t see why not. I mean, I think for local SEO it’s obviously still a very strong ranking factor, and just showing that you’re investing in the accuracy of your brand online, so to have consistency across your N-A-P throughout the local ecosystem, yeah, sure that definitely plays back into how trustworthy your brand is, it just goes to show that you’re managing that proactively, managing your brand, and the experience that people have with your brand online, all comes back into the customer experience.

Erin Sparks: (38:53) And also giving the opportunity for consumers to be able to review you, and all the fore mentioned spaces out there, and that you’re responsive to that. That’s just another level of you are who you say you are.

Lily Ray: (39:06) Exactly. Yeah.

Erin Sparks: (39:08) Lily, this is an incredible conversation, I’m digging it. I really do appreciate your authority in this space. Why does E-A-T matter in three points or less?

Lily Ray: (39:22) It matters because people are using Google to get information rapidly, and they’re relying on Google for very important decision making in their life, so you have to provide expert content to Google to be able to compete, and to be able to provide people with the content they’re looking for, and maintain trust with the search engine, as well as with the companies that are offering content in the search engine.

Lily Ray: (39:52) I actually wrote an article for Moz, so if you look up Moz, and my name you’ll see a survey that I did that found that younger searchers are much more likely to take content at face value, or take those answers at face value, and if you think about the rise of voice search, people are asking questions, they’re getting quick answers, and then they’re taking that as the truth, so E-A-T really matters for that, obviously. It just matters because we all know what it feels like to use the internet, and feel good about content that we’re reading, so I think it’s not just an SEO thing, but it’s really important for the wellbeing of the public, as well.

Erin Sparks: (40:28) It’s for the good of all online interaction not just SEO, but you’re absolutely right, we also know we’ve all had the experience of being sideswiped by somebody who was a bit sketchy out there, and that’s what Google’s doing right now, they’re policing that, and you know it’s going to be more and more specialized, and they’re going to invest a lot of time into this, because this is where, this is that one extra room that you can’t spam, it came from content back there, it came into links, they’ve been continually cleaning up, and getting to a point where you just can’t manipulate it, and this is that additional factor that you got to be who you are, and you have to have the accreditations out there, and the experience. It’s the next new room in this entire puzzle, here, and if you’re there Google’s certainly going to know it. Right?

Lily Ray: (41:18) Yep. I think so, I think it’s definitely a good area to focus on, [inaudible 00:41:23].

Erin Sparks: (41:24) Absolutely. We really appreciate unpacking this for our audience. At the end of every one of our shows we always swing back around to our guests and ask them a couple things. What bugs you about your industry right now?

Lily Ray: (41:37) How many people are still buying and selling links, and having to deal with that in my LinkedIn inbox every day, it’s getting very frustrating.

Erin Sparks: (41:45) It’s terrible, isn’t it?

Lily Ray: (41:47) Yeah. Over it.

Erin Sparks: (41:50) Honestly, the video, the LinkedIn self videos, I mean come on give it a rest people. They’re trying to beef their EAT up, and all they are is just annoying. I’m sorry. Conversely, what excites you about your industry?

Lily Ray: (42:07) I think this stuff that we all talked about today. It keeps it really interesting. It’s not just about quick fixes, and short hacks anymore for SEO, it’s really about fundamentally rethinking your brand, and how you can present yourself online. That’s fun. That’s a nice challenge for white hat SEOs, so it’s quite enjoyable.

Erin Sparks: (42:25) It’s a whole other marketing realm though, isn’t it? We’re going to do the dance with experts in their field, and researching all those small nuances of where they’ve got to plug in to. That’s what’s cool about SEO you learn so much about so many industries, but with this, boy, it’s going to be fun.

Lily Ray: (42:44) Yep.

Erin Sparks: (42:45) Excellent. You have a fun story that you said, not story, but a fun fact that you gave us, lay it on us, you’re a grandniece of who?

Lily Ray: (42:56) The artist Man Ray. He’s a dadaist/surrealist from the 1920s, 1930s.

Erin Sparks: (43:04) Oh, cool.

Lily Ray: (43:05) [inaudible 00:43:05] Picasso, and Dali, and those guys, so I’m his great-grandniece, he never met his own kids, so I’m kind of like the closest thing to a descendant.

Erin Sparks: (43:12) Very cool.

Lily Ray: (43:14) It’s pretty cool. He’s a pretty legendary artist, you should check out his work.

Erin Sparks: (43:18) Yeah. Have you tweeted about some of the work, recently?

Lily Ray: (43:22) Yeah. My husband and I changed our last name back to Ray after kind of losing it for a couple generations, we wanted it back, so that’s why I’m Lily Ray.

Erin Sparks: (43:32) That’s a big pain right here.

Lily Ray: (43:34) Yeah.

Erin Sparks: (43:35) If you have a chance tweet out some of a painting or so that he’s done for-

Lily Ray: (43:39) I will.

Lily Ray: (43:40) Sure.

Erin Sparks: (43:41) Because, the SEOs in the world can certainly need a little bit of culture and art every once in while.

Lily Ray: (43:48) Yeah. I’ll share some photos.

Erin Sparks: (43:48) Sweet. Is there anything that we can promote for you on the show, here?

Lily Ray: (43:52) Yeah. Just check out my agency, Path Interactive. We do a whole suite of digital marketing services, web development, creative services, analytics. We’re really focused on E-A-T right now, and we’re really looking for more opportunities to do E-A-T audits, and help companies become compliant in this new landscape, so we’d love the potential to help some new people out.

Erin Sparks: (44:12) Absolutely. That’s going to be the coin of the realm, a E-A-T audit. You should be looking to agencies that if they’re worth their salt they’re going to be in that space, and they may be trying to figure it out along the way, because there’s so many bloody tools. You hear it today, that there’s no one way to look at this. Path Interactive is certainly doing a bang up job. You want to make sure you track Lily down at LilyRayNYC. On Facebook, Path Interactive. On LinkedIn, Lily-Ray-, well there’s a bunch of numbers there, so I’m going to put in the link. Instagram, LilyRayNYC, and [inaudible 00:44:49] LilyRay.nyc. Final thoughts for our digital marketing audience today, Lily?

Lily Ray: (44:57) Stop spamming Google and do the right thing.

Erin Sparks: (45:02) See, it’s just that easy. That’s all you have to do. All right. Thanks so much, Lily, we appreciate your time today, and keep up the good work there, and let people know it’s no longer the BS marketing realm, you got to be real out there. Thanks again for your time, today. Thanks for listening to Edgeofthewebradio.com, and a special thank you to our colleagues here at Site Strategics, but a very, very special thank you to Lily Ray, and being able to unpack some of the E-A-T concepts here, and this is not going away, you know that we’re going to be in this space from here on out, so that’s going to effect your SEO, your social, your content, your engagement factor, so you need to adopt this discipline on a regular basis.

Erin Sparks: (45:43) Make sure you check out all the must see videos over at edgeofthewebradio.com. That’s edgeofthewebradio.com. We’re going to be talking to a number of people, we got Ginny Marvin coming up this week, as well as Brian Merit, if I’m not mistaken we’re going live tomorrow, actually we just went live. We’ll catch that in post. Thanks for listening to Edge Of The Web, and we will talk to you next week. Do not be a piece of cyber driftwood. Take care. Bye-bye…